Installing satellite radio into your vehicle gives you commercial free, crystal clear programming. Satellite radio is a step up from regular radio, but as with most car audio components, there is a bit of a learning curve when trying to figure out how to install satellite radio in your car. For your convenience we put together a satellite radio installation guide to help you along the way. Read below for more details.

Installing the Satellite Radio Antenna

A satellite radio antenna receives a signal from the satellite and enables your radio to tune in to digital satellite stations. Both plug-and-playand in-dash satellite radio tuners require antennas. Satellite radio antennas are mounted externally, usually on the top of the vehicle. Most antennas are magnetic or include an adhesive strip for easy mounting.

In order to provide a signal to the radio, antennas must be connected to the satellite tuner. The satellite radio tuner is usually mounted under the seats, though some head units have built-in tuners. After you mount the antenna on the roof of the vehicle, you must run the antenna wire into your vehicle in order to connect to the tuner. Depending on the type of car you are working with, there are a few different tricks for routing the wire to the inside of your vehicle.

For most cars, you will be able to route the wire underneath the back window sealing and into the trunk. As you run it through the trunk to the tuner box, you will need to remove some panels in order to hide the wire. For truck owners, the process is slightly different. Most truck owners remove the truck bed brake light and run the wire through this opening.  Adjust the carpet and panels as necessary to conceal the wiring. For vans and SUVs, you can run the wire beneath the hatchback window sealing and under the carpet.

Dock-and-Play Satellite Radio Systems

Dock-and-play models are supported by a docking station, which you can mount on the dash with an adhesive strip. To power these portable satellite radio players, use the cigarette adapter. To transfer the sound to your in-dash stereo system, you can use a cassette adapter, a FM modulator, or RCA cables. The best option is to plug the dock-and-play unit into your in-dash car stereo’s aux input. While this gives you the best signal, your stereo may not have an aux input or it might require an additional adapter.

The built-in wireless FM modulator allows you to broadcast satellite radio programming over an unused FM channel. You can also use a wired FM modulator to transfer the satellite radio signal to your car stereo. A wired FM modulator operates in a similar fashion through an unused FM station, but will not produce as much distortion. Simply plug the dock-and-play satellite radio to the modulator thru the audio output. Then connect the wired FM modulator to your stereo’s antenna input. You will need to connect the FM modulator to a 12V source for power as well as for ground.

In-Dash and Tuner Systems

In-dash stereos that are “satellite radio ready” require additional adapters and tuners, as well as a subscription. Tuners are designed as brand specific for car stereos. Plug the antenna into the tuner, and plug the tuner into the stereo’s changer input. Tuners are typically mounted underneath the front seats. You will need to route 12V power and ground wire to the tuner.


To repeat, you can add satellite radio to your vehicle by installing a dock-and-play system or an in-dash and tuner setup. Make sure you seek guidance from an experienced friend before attempting your install. Enjoy the music!